~ An Interview with Rachael Harris, SVP, Product Management~
How do you quantify important decisions in your life (a new job, college, marriage, kids)? Do you “go with your gut”; use “rock, paper, scissors”; apply “fuzzy logic”; or ask someone else to decide for you? Or do you review the facts, analyze stacks of relevant life documents, review data, and dig into your past to determine if the decision is the right one? For some, the idea of a deep dive into your past seems absurd, for others, it may seem perfectly reasonable.
In the world of mortgage underwriting, getting into the details is the law of the land. In fact, the quality, accuracy, and visibility of the data, documents, and analysis backing an underwriting decision are just as important as the final decision itself.
In today’s rapidly modernizing mortgage world, we see a plethora of tech emerging to help support the extraordinarily complex process of underwriting (AI, Blackbox, etc). And Indecomm is among many innovators in this space. But unlike other providers, Indecomm’s innovation philosophy centers around staying true to the core intent of a process or function. Since transparency is at the heart of the underwriting function, it is also at the heart of Indecomm’s DecisionGenius underwriting and loan decisioning product.
In fact, at the heart of all of Indecomm’s Genius platforms is a unique superpower – the glass box – which sets them apart from other products in the market. What is the “glass box” and how does the glass box work? To explore this concept, we have asked our SVP, Product Management, Rachael Harris to share her thoughts on how DecisionGenius’ glass box works.
Q. What is the glass box approach?
Rachael: The glass-box approach is a core feature of Indecomm’s Genius technology platforms. Whether you are using Indecomm’s IncomeGenius, DecisionGenius or other Genius product, its glass box functionality gives users the ability to look at the building blocks of how a decision was made. As it pertains to underwriting, it allows mortgage front-office processors and underwriters to see the mechanics of automation-first decision-making.
DecisionGenius’ glass box approach to underwriting means all the documents, cash flow statements, computations, and conditions used to process the data from borrower documents are easily accessible for review and revision if needed. Using a glass-box approach, the ultimate loan decision is a function of all these input files. At any time during the decision-making process, these input files are available for a zoomed-in view whenever a reviewer wishes to see further detail.
One way to look at it: the glass box approach flies in the face of the black box approach – one in which the underwriter or decision-maker works behind a rationale and a set of motivations that are never shared with the user who takes the decision further down the lifecycle of the mortgage. “Here’s the decision, take it or leave it”– the black box says.
Q: Why is “glass box” transparency so important to the underwriting function in mortgage banking?
Rachael: Think of underwriting as a story. Transparency in underwriting provides both the answers and the tale of their origins.
Behind every decision in underwriting is the story of a borrower’s credit, assets, income, and collateral. DecisionGenius does this computation and assessment for the underwriter based on the documents fed into the loan origination system when a loan application is received. The underwriter using this solution can review the data and documents without spending time classifying, arranging, and processing the docs manually. That means the story behind the decision is easily accessible by the underwriter and can be checked and rechecked as needed.
Using a “glass-box approach” the underwriter is no longer working with a walled-off black box of a decision algorithm but can query, move within, and access any portion of the items that fed the underlying decision-making model. This empowers the underwriter to make quicker, better-informed decisions, helping lenders make better decisions on granting or declining a loan.
The short answer: clearer, more reliable decisions and answers – what we call “glass-box” transparency – means you miss nothing.
Q. Where does technology fall short in the underwriting function?
Rachael: Since it is a technology and not a human doing the first round of underwriting checks, the accuracy and authenticity of the documents and sources of truth are of overwhelming importance. Underwriting technology is only as good as the inputs it receives. The efficacy of underwriting technology is limited by the quality of the documents received from the borrower. Sub-par quality in the documents – such as illegibly handwritten statements, smudged documents, and irrelevant files – is a threat to the quality of the outcomes.
To counter this, Indecomm’s DecisionGenius (and other Genius products) leverage its proprietary Intelligent Document Extraction (IDX[RM1] ) solution, which combines a document enrichment and certification layer Input files are compiled and manipulated using IDX’s image-to-text conversion, with text as the output of all document-to-data operations. The accuracy of this conversion is the cornerstone of underwriting accuracy. While other systems and platforms use OCR, Indecomm supercharged this document-to-data extraction by pairing proprietary technologies with a trusted industry leader.
Indecomm built the IDX solution using Amazon Web Services Textract which has an accuracy metric of 98%-100% in document classification and 92%-99% in data extraction on average. This document-to-data extraction accuracy is unparalleled in the mortgage industry and serves to enhance the DecisionGenius solution while building trust with the user.
Further bolstering the line of defense again the pitfalls of poor-quality documents is the provision for a human in the loop, via document validation. A human agent can corroborate questionable fields, append corrected files, or supervise revisions, speeding up the process of document processing. DecisionGenius makes it easy for its users to stay “in the loop.” Moreover, Indecomm offers its customers both the underlying technology AND the human-in-the-loop as a part of the same service.
Q. Why does Indecomm take on the glass box approach?
Rachael: Lenders have historically struggled with black-box systems that keep their logic and methods of operation walled off from the users. Indecomm was determined to offer a more transparent, empowering take on income computation, underwriting, audit, and QC processes. Indecomm has been in the business of supporting mortgage organizations for the past 25 years through the delivery of services, education, compliance, automation, and technology development. Its talent lives and breathes mortgage in every sense of the word which has made a significant difference to the utility and effectiveness of its technology solutions. Indecomm’s talent doesn’t just build products it thinks the industry needs. It solves problems based on use cases and experience.
Since Indecomm’s “Genius” product developers and operations experts have sat in the chair of the underwriter, they know the questions, setbacks, and pain points associated with the role. They know exactly what aspects of underwriting are the most cumbersome and error-prone. And they know that the underwriter is going to want to see the work done behind the scenes to bring a file to clear to close. The underwriter’s name is associated with the decision and, if we are going to use technology to support a decision, it needs to be a Genius glass-box decision.
Q. What’s the secret sauce behind Indecomm’s glass-box approach?
Rachael: Behind every Genius platform are three core technologies in our “Genius” tech stack: Indecomm’s proprietary Intelligent Document Extraction (IDX), its rules-based engine, and a bi-directional API that synchronizes with the lender’s LOS or document repository. Each of these components contributes to transparency, be it in underwriting, auditing, or post-close trailing doc management.
Instead of getting into the technical weeds, I will simply state that the Genius tech stack is logical, powerful, and drives exceptional product performance at every turn. Yes, it contributes to unparalleled “glass box” transparency but it does so much more.
If you are a lender seriously considering DecisionGenius (or any other Genius product), we encourage you to get a demo and explore the Genius tech stack with someone from our team.
The glass-box approach to decision-making is all about allowing the underwriter to see why and how a certain decision (or a computation) was derived. Need to take a closer look? Just zoom in on that section of the computation or the set of documents that are referenced in the DecisionGenius dashboard. The input documents and the outputs that have been gleaned from a loan application have to hang together, and a glass-box decision-making model allows exactly that.
Get a deeper dive demo of DecisionGenius.